Merry Everything and Holiday Colors Gone Wild


There so many holidays during December I feel like saying “Merry Everything” to be inclusive, but someone will think it offensive. Christmas used to be distinctly red and green in bright jewel tones but who dictated that color combo and why. If you look at vintage Christmas cards, they use a muddier palette. I don’t mind if you wish me a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah or Happy Festivus. It’s the intention behind the good wishes that matter. Do holiday colors really matter?

Hanukkah used to be shades of gold but mostly the blue of the Israeli flag but Hanukkah existed long before the State of Israel. Why are we slaves to color choices? Sure there are variations and subtle tones these days but the traditional color combos continue to exert a powerful pull. They influence mood and that includes shopping. Can you imagine a Holiday ad for Macy’s in hot pink and not their traditional red? Way too risky. I like to color outside the lines all year round.  Never mind thinking outside the box. Let’s think outside the color wheel. This is an odd color combo and holiday card from me. I’ll probably feel guilty and pop out a traditional Hanukkah, Yule and Christmas Card. Who knows, maybe even Kwanzaa. What do you think? Interesting or epic fail?


Thinking more deeply on colors and their meanings I remembered a poem by the wonderful Jewish, feminist cat lover poet, Marge Piercy from ~Southern California Anthology ~ 1999. If you aren’t familiar with her fiction and non-fiction work, visit her website and enjoy.

Colors passing through us


Purple as tulips in May, mauve

into lush velvet, purple

as the stain blackberries leave

on the lips, on the hands,

the purple of ripe grapes

unlit and warm as flesh.


Every day I will give you a color,

like a new flower in a bud vase

on your desk. Every day

I will paint you, as women

color each other with henna

on hands and on feet.


Red as henna, as cinnamon,

as coals after the fire is banked,

the cardinal in the feeder,

the roses tumbling on the arbor

their weight bending the wood

the red of the syrup I make from petals.


Orange as the perfumed fruit

hanging their globes on the glossy tree,

orange as pumpkins in the field,

orange as butterflyweed and the monarchs

who come to eat it, orange as my

cat running lithe through the high grass.


Yellow as a goat’s wise and wicked eyes,

yellow as a hill of daffodils,

yellow as dandelions by the highway,

yellow as butter and egg yolks,

yellow as a school bus stopping you,

yellow as a slicker in a downpour.


Here is my bouquet, here is a sing

song of all the things you make

me think of, here is oblique

praise for the height and depth

of you and the width too.

Here is my box of new crayons at your feet.


Green as mint jelly, green

as a frog on a lily pad twanging,

the green of cos lettuce upright

about to bolt into opulent towers,

green as Grand Chartreuse in a clear

glass, green as wine bottles.


Blue as cornflowers, delphiniums,

bachelors’ buttons. Blue as Roquefort,

blue as Saga. Blue as still water.

Blue as the eyes of a Siamese cat.

Blue as shadows on new snow, as a spring

azure sipping from a puddle on the blacktop.


Cobalt as the midnight sky

when day has gone without a trace

and we lie in each other’s arms

eyes shut and fingers open

and all the colors of the world

pass through our bodies like strings of fire.


Marge Piercy ~ Southern California Anthology ~ 1999